The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Monday, June 08, 2009


California Politicians Need to Do The Right Thing

In the wake of the Special Election, Governor Schwarzenegger and other leaders should not be so quick to throw up their hands and declare that raising taxes is off the table because the people have spoken. Such an interpretation is inaccurate and irresponsible.

Although surely many voters intended to convey an anti-tax message, countless others rejected Propositions 1A-1E for different reasons. We must also consider these meanings behind a NO vote:

·      NO to slashing funding for children and the mentally ill

·      NO to depending on the lottery as a means of financing education

·      NO to the Trojan horse of permanent spending caps and rainy-day funds in exchange for temporary and regressive tax extensions

·      NO to appeasing a legislative minority that holds the state hostage

·      NO to muddled language, intent, and outcome

·      NO to government by ill-informed citizen initiative and legislative buck-passing

·      NO to applying bandaids instead of addressing the real problem.

The real problem is both structural and moral.

Structurally, California will remain in a stranglehold until we reform Proposition 13, get rid of the two-thirds requirement for approving taxes and the state budget, and stop governing by initiative.

Unfortunately, these structural remedies constitute the third rail of California politics, and legislators understandably shy away from high-voltage risks. Still, unless leaders and voters have the moral courage to grab that third rail, the state is doomed to something far worse than political suicide.

Our predicament stems not only from a tanking economy, but from  a failure in leadership and a failure in citizenship.

Instead of capitulating to the tantrums of anti-tax zealots, Governor Schwarzenegger and other elected and civic officials need to put taxes back on the table. As Bill Clinton notes, “There’s a lot of evidence you can sell people on tax increases if they think it’s an investment.” Rather than sell California down the river, our leaders must find the courage to reframe responsible taxation as not just necessary, but a good investment.

Ordinary citizens must also find the courage to listen. Too many Californians want it all, but want it all for free.  Such entitlement creates a dangerous disconnect from reality and the responsibilities inherent to good citizenship. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed, “Taxes are dues we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society. “

They are bargain dues at that. Taxes utilize economies of scale and are cost-effective. Before the slash-and-burn tax revolt of the '70s, they bought us the finest state parks, K-16 education, and infrastructure in the nation. Taxes are the modest means by which we equitably share the responsibility of providing common wealth for the common good.

Keeping taxes off the table also ensures that Californians will pay more in hidden costs. The price may not show up in our tax bills, but it surely shows up bloated everywhere else: skyrocketing fees at our public universities, losing a day’s pay standing in line during curtailed hours at the DMV, struggling to care for your elderly aunt when she loses her home health attendant.

Even if our personal pocketbooks can absorb these now-privatized costs, nobody can afford the huge societal costs. Taxes are an insurance policy against blowback that results from defunding worthwhile services. If we fail to support prevention upfront, we will pay the much higher cost of intervention later, in the form of uneducated and latchkey children, unemployment, homelessness, overburdened emergency rooms, and increased crime.

Finally, tax policy is a reflection of our values. We ought to be ashamed of protecting tax loopholes for rich yacht owners while eliminating health care for millions of poor children. Have we no sense of decency?

Some argue we can’t afford to raise taxes. We can’t afford not to—for the state of our state, the state of our pocketbooks, and the state of our souls.

By Lorrie Goldin


 Let your voice be heard:

Budget Conference Committee Members: Names and fax numbers listed at:

How to find out your legislators’ contact info:

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